Stand guard at the door of your mind. — Jim Rohn

This time of year, folks are paying attention to their diet.

It’s a good time to do so. A new year provides a fresh start, and most of us need to rein things in a bit after the holidays. Now is a natural time to work on our eating habits—more apples, fewer Snickers.

But what about our mental diets?

All food is not created equal—we know this. There’s junk, and there’s healthy food. Yet when it comes to information—our mental food—we don’t think in such terms. We welcome it all.

This is a mistake. Just as our diet influences how our bodies feel, the information we consume greatly affects our mood and quality of life.

  • Cable news makes us feel angry and fearful, but reading a cool-headed analysis of the day’s (or week’s) events in a world-class newspaper keeps us just as informed and in a better frame of mind.
  • Scrolling through social media causes feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, but meeting a friend for coffee stokes feelings of connection and well-being.
  • YouTube binges eat our free time and provide little in return, but a structured reading program enriches our lives with each turn of the page.

As we tighten up our diets, let’s give some thought to our mental diets, too.

“Is this good for me?” is a question we could all ask more often.